NFL

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

NFL DRAFT 2014: Scouting the top offensive players in the draft

  • Print

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A brief scouting report on some of the top offensive players available at each position in the NFL draft, which will be held May 8-10 in New York.

QUARTERBACKS: Intriguing group of talent with no one a lock to be an early first-rounder.

JOHNNY MANZIEL, Texas A&M (5-foot-11 3/4, 207 pounds). 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was one of most exciting and productive players in college football history. How well his game, which featured plenty of spectacular but unscripted plays out of the pocket, translates to NFL is big question. Mechanics and recognition of defences need work and size is not ideal, but athleticism and competitiveness are enticing.

Projection: First round

BLAKE BORTLES, UCF (6-5, 232). Blossomed into one of college football's best quarterbacks last year, leading Central Florida to the most successful season in the history of the program. Has drawn comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger because of his combination of size and mobility. Some questions about his ability to throw deep accurately after playing in an offence that featured many short passes and quick throws.

Projection: First round.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, Louisville (6-2, 214). Three-year starter who took over as freshman and helped Louisville to consecutive double-digit win seasons in his final two years. Solid mechanics, reads field well, stays disciplined under pressure and has shown willingness to play hurt. Relatively small frame and lack of high-end arm strength are question marks which could keep him from being first quarterback taken.

Projection: First round.

DEREK CARR, Fresno State (6-2, 214). Brother of 2002 first overall draft pick David Carr. Threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season three times. Quick feet and quick release, helps him get rid of ball fast and avoid pressure. Good athlete. Forces throws and size is not ideal.

Projection: Middle-late first round.

Other early-round possibilities: AJ McCarron, Alabama; Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois; Zach Mettenberger, LSU; Tom Savage, Pittsburgh.

___

RUNNING BACKS: Not a glamour position any more, there is good chance none will be taken in first round. That should make for good value picks later.

CARLOS HYDE, Ohio State (6-0, 230). After serving three-game suspension, returned to have huge senior season, averaged 7.3 yards per carry. Runs with power, has quick feet and excellent size. Good hands and solid blocker. Lacks breakaway speed and there are some questions about conditioning.

Projection: Possible late first round.

Other early-round possibilities: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona; Tre Mason, Auburn; Bishop Sankey, Washington; Andre Williams, Boston College; Jeremy Hill, LSU.

___

WIDE RECEIVERS: May be deepest position in draft. Expect about half-dozen first-round picks and plenty of talent left over for second and third days.

SAMMY WATKINS, Clemson (6-1, 211). Spectacular freshman and junior seasons, sandwiched around so-so sophomore year when he was hampered by suspension and injury. Clemson's career leader in receptions (240) and yards receiving (3,391). Big-time speed and good hands. Runs tough and with power after catch. There's not much to complain about, maybe better route running, but that goes for most receivers coming into NFL.

Projection: Top 10.

MIKE EVANS, Texas A&M (6-5, 231). In two seasons playing with Manziel, Evans had 151 catches, 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns. Huge, Calvin Johnson-type receiver, though he doesn't quite have Megatron speed. Was nearly impossible for college cornerbacks to stop one-on-one on deep balls. Lack of separation speed is likely difference between him being first receiver off board and second or third. But he shouldn't have to wait long.

Projection: Top 15.

BRANDIN COOKS, Oregon State (5-10, 170). Won Biletnikoff Award as nation's best receiver last year, when he set Pac-12 records with 128 catches for 1,730 yards. Very fast (legit 4.4 in 40-yard dash), but not just undersized deep threat. Has good quickness to separate from defenders in middle of field and make tacklers miss. Plays physical despite size, but that size is still far from ideal.

Projection: Middle-late first round.

ODELL BECKHAM, LSU (5-11, 198). Broke LSU's single-season record with 2,315 all-purpose yards last season. Tough and skilled receiver and excellent return man.

Reliable hands. Strong and quick after the catch. Tough to tackle. Plays bigger than 5-11. Doesn't have blazing speed or great size, but if you watched him play you might have a hard time noticing that.

Projection: Middle-late first round.

KELVIN BENJAMIN, Florida State (6-5, 240). Blossomed last season with 54 catches for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns, including winning score in BCS championship game against Auburn. Huge and an irresistible red-zone weapon. Hands fall into needs-improvement category and he is not a burner. But fast enough considering his size.

Projection: Late first round.

MARQISE LEE, USC (6-0, 192). After huge sophomore season (118 catches and 1,721 yards), Lee fell off last year as junior (57 for 791). Injuries were a problem. Inconsistent play at quarterback for USC was another. He also just didn't play well. At his best, Lee looks like future star. Runs smooth routes, catches with ease and always seems to be open. His measurables — size and speed — are not great, and coming off lacklustre season he could slip out of first round.

Projection: Possible late first round.

Other early-round possibilities: Davante Adams, Fresno State; Donte Moncrief, Mississippi; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Allen Robinson, Penn State; Jarvis Landry, LSU; Cody Latimer, Indiana.

___

TIGHT ENDS: One lock first-rounder and a handful of big athletes that have teams thinking they might land the next Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski.

ERIC EBRON, North Carolina (6-4, 250). Breakout junior season with 62 catches for 973 yards, breaking ACC record for yards by tight end held by Vernon Davis at Maryland. Exceptional athlete, combining size, speed, quickness and sticky hands. Blocking needs work and needs to play at his best more consistently, but could be next matchup nightmare tight end in NFL.

Projection: Top 15.

JACE AMARO, Texas Tech (6-5, 265). Was most productive tight end in college football last season, going for 106 catches and 1,352 yards in Texas Tech's spread offence, where he often lined up as slot receiver. Set FBS record for yards by tight end. Good athlete with potential to be impossible to defend. But numbers were helped by system that used him a lot; still raw in many areas.

Projection: Possible late first round.

Other early-round possibilities: Troy Niklas, Notre Dame; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa.

___

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Solid group, though there's big drop-off after top few players.

GREG ROBINSON, Auburn (6-5, 332). Two-year starter at left tackle who became dominant player as junior last year. Checks all boxes with size, athleticism and power. Potential top-five pick, though pass blocking technique needs some work.

Projection: Top 10.

JAKE MATTHEWS, Texas A&M (6-5, 308). Son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews. Became starter during freshman season. Played right tackle as sophomore and junior and moved to left as senior after Luke Joeckel moved on to NFL. Strong and technically sound. Only question: will be a top-notch pro or merely good?

Projection: Top 10.

TAYLOR LEWAN, Michigan (6-7, 309). Started 39 games at left tackle in final three seasons at Michigan and was team captain. Good balance, speed and quickness. Needs to fill out in lower body. Not an overpowering blocker.

Projection: Top 15.

ZACK MARTIN, Notre Dame (6-4, 308). Started 39 games and was two-time team captain. Reliable, tough, sound and consistent blocker. Might be better suited to playing guard because of size.

Projection: Late first round.

Other early-round possibilities: Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA; Joel Bitonio, Nevada; Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama; Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State; Antonio Richardson, Tennessee.

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.
  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How surpised are you by the Bombers’ 4-1 start to the season?

View Results

Ads by Google